Lindsey Graham on the Republican Party after Trump: 'We either get smarter or die'

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Lindsey Graham And Mitt Romney Give Up Trying To Stop Trump

Sen. Lindsey Graham characterized the crisis facing the Republican Party in grim terms Friday, saying the party needs to adapt or die after the 2016 presidential election.

The South Carolina senator called the matchup between Donald Trump, the Republican nominee, and Hillary Clinton, the presumptive Democratic nominee, a "race to the bottom."

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During a talk at The Common Good Forum in New York on Friday, Foreign Affairs managing editor Jonathan Tepperman asked Graham what would happen to the Republican Party after the election.

Graham responded, "We either get smarter or die."

"If we win, it will be because we suck more than the other side," Graham continued. "This is a race to the bottom, and I think we have a slightly faster car."

Graham, a vehement critic of Trump, was a 2016 presidential candidate himself before hedropped out in December. He failed to gain traction in polls throughout his campaign.

As he did on the campaign trail, Graham spoke Friday of the need for a more inclusive Republican Party.

"The bottom line is, if in 2017 we've lost the White House because we're losing more ground with Hispanics, we're losing ground with young women, if we don't adjust, we're dead," Graham said.

See Graham through the years:

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Lindsey Graham on the Republican Party after Trump: 'We either get smarter or die'
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., speaks during the Iowa Republican Party's Lincoln Dinner, Saturday, May 16, 2015, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
FILE - In this March 12, 2015 file photo, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington. Republican senators eyeing the presidency split over the renewal of the Patriot Act surveillance law, with civil libertarians at odds with traditional defense hawks who back tough spying powers in the fight against terrorism. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, File)
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., speaks at the Republican Leadership Summit Saturday, April 18, 2015, in Nashua, N.H. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 10: U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) speaks during the 2015 Alfred K. Whitehead Legislative Conference and Presidential Forum March 10, 2015 in Washington, DC. Prospective 2016 presidential candidates from both political parties participated in the presidential forum during the conference which hosted by the International Association of Fire Fighters. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., listens during a news conference on the federal prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, Tuesday, Jan. 13, 2015, on Capitol Hill in Washington. Four powerful Republican senators are pushing for new restrictions on President Barack Obama's ability to transfer terror suspects out of the federal prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
Vice President Joe Biden shares a laugh with Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. before Biden administered the Senate oath during a ceremonial re-enactment swearing-in ceremony, Tuesday, Jan. 6, 2015, in the Old Senate Chamber on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., talks to volunteers at the Aiken County Republican Party office on Tuesday, Oct. 14, 2014, in Aiken, S.C. Graham is spending his last weeks of the 2014 campaign trying to get his voters o vote instead of trying to get new voters to his side. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Collins)
FILE - This July 24, 2014, file photo shows Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., as he listens to other Senators speak on Capitol Hill in Washington, during a news conference on the violence in the Mideast. Islamic militants' growing influence in Iraq and Syria are a threat to Americans, lawmakers from both political parties agreed Sunday even as they sharply disagreed on what role the United States should play in crushing them. (AP Photo, File)
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), left, speaks to the media about national security as North Carolina Republican Senate candidate Thom Tillis, right, listens, during a news conference in Greensboro, N.C., Friday, Sept. 26, 2014. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, right, and his Democratic challenger state Sen. Brad Hutto, left, shake hands after discussing the issues for the first time at a forum sponsored by the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce on Monday, Oct. 27, 2014, in Columbia, S.C. The two disagreed sharply on the issues at times, but kept it polite. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Collins)
U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, right. listens as his Democratic challenger state Sen. Brad Hutto, left, answers a question as the two discuss the issues for the first time at a forum sponsored by the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce on Monday, Oct. 27, 2014, in Columbia, S.C. The two disagreed sharply on the issues at times, but kept it polite. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Collins)
North Carolina Republican Senate candidate Thom Tillis, right, speaks about national security as Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), left, listens during a news conference in Greensboro, N.C., Friday, Sept. 26, 2014. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
South Carolina Adjutant General Robert Livingston, left, listens as U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, right, talks about a bill passed by Congress to improve health care for veterans on Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014, in Columbia, S.C. Graham said the most important part of the bill is the ability to fire poorly performing employees. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Collins)
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., center, talks with Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., left, and Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., right, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, July 24, 2014, following a news conference on the violence in the Mideast. (AP Photo)
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., right, speaks during a news conference on the violence in the Mideast on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, July 24, 2014. At left is Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., left. (AP Photo)
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., speaks to supporters after winning the Republican primary, Tuesday, June 10, 2014, in Columbia, S.C. Graham defeated six tea party challengers. (AP Photo/Rainier Ehrhardt)
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., speaks to supporters after winning the Republican primary, Tuesday, June 10, 2014, in Columbia, S.C. Graham defeated six tea party challengers and avoided a runoff. (AP Photo/Rainier Ehrhardt)
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, June 4, 2014, after attending a closed-door briefing with intelligence officials. Senate Republicans have been highly critical of the Obama administration’s decision to swap five members of the Taliban for captive Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Sen. Lindsey Graham speaks during a campaign stop at American Legion Post 20 on Wednesday, April 23, 2014, in Greenwood, S.C. (AP Photo/Rainier Ehrhardt)
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., speaks at the Susan B. Anthony List "Campaign for Life Gala and Summit", a gathering of anti-abortion advocates, in Washington, Wednesday, March 12, 2014.(AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham talks to students at Winthrop University about foreign policy on Thursday, Feb. 20, 2014, in Rock Hill, S.C. It was one of a number of events for the senator as he kicked off his 2014 re-election campaign in earnest. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Collins)
U.S. Sens. Lindsey Graham, left, speaks as John McCain listens during a press conference at the David Citadel hotel in Jerusalem, Friday, Jan. 3, 2014. Republican Sen. McCain said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has "serious, serious concerns" about parts of the proposal Secretary of State John Kerry is using to broker peace with the Palestinians. (AP Photo/Brendan Smialowski, Pool)
United States Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., answers a question during a news conference in Goose Creek, S.C., on Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2013. The senator said while South Carolinians and the rest of the nation are weary of war, the situation in Syria demands an American response because events there are linked to the developments in the rest of the Middle East. (AP Photo/Bruce Smith)
In this Sept. 3, 2013 photo, U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham talks to a reporter following a speech to business leaders in Goose Creek, S.C. Graham is facing three challengers in the 2014 Republican primary for his seat. (AP Photo/Bruce Smith)
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And Graham seems to think there's an opening for a revamped party.

"The good news is people are not sold on the Democratic Party," Graham said. "They're looking for alternatives and I don't think we're providing a good one yet."

Graham urged Republicans to consider immigration reform and called House Speaker Paul Ryan "the future of the party."

"He's a party leader," Graham said. "I'm just a voice in the Republican Party."

Trump has a different view of the future of the party.

He told Bloomberg in an interview published this week that he thinks we'll see a "different party" in five or 10 years.

"You're going to have a worker's party," he said. "A party of people that haven't had a real wage increase in 18 years. What I want to do, I think cutting Social Security is a big mistake for the Republican Party. And I know it's a big part of the budget. Cutting it the wrong way is a big mistake, and even cutting it" at all.

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